[EM] secession Was Re: it's pleocracy, not democracy
Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
abd at lomaxdesign.com
Thu Mar 8 10:07:17 PST 2007
At 11:03 AM 3/8/2007, raphfrk at netscape.net wrote:
> > Majority rule can be conceived of in two ways. One is that there
> > is some identified group of people who vote together who are
> > "the majority." This is clearly an abuse.
>Adding in a secession rule could act as a safety valve. If the
>value of participating is less than the costs, then maybe people
>should go their separate ways.
But under the rules of all democratic societies, such a majority can
generally do what it wants. And a rule which takes the power from
such a majority and gives it to someone *else* is actually not an
improvement, it is, temporarily at least, minority rule. By definition.
That is, the dictatorship of the majority has been replaced by the
dictatorship if the minority. Carry this to a minority of one. It is
pure dictatorship, and a random method of selecting those who have
the power to rule makes such a return possible (if unlikely).
It's bad enough that the majority could decide to impose a
dicatorship. What is being proposed here is essentially that a
*minority* could do it.
Now, with rule of law, one might think, this could be prevented. You
just have laws to prevent it, and if the award of power to the
minority was severely constrained, and the minority could not change
the laws, it might seem that the problem is solved. But it isn't.
Administrators who have actual power can find ways to corrupt
enforcement of the law.
The fact is, and Libertarians know it generally better than others,
any centralization of power is quite dangerous. Majority rule, with
centralized institutions of power, is dangerous. But my argument is
essentially that alternatives that still maintain centralized power
are *more* dangerous. That is, the majority can constrain minorities
(even *without* legal support), generally. Majority rule in law
merely reflects an underlying social law. It's not a rigid law, and
obviously there are conditions where the majority doesn't actually
rule, but, over time, governments that do not serve the majority,
generally, disappear. Often they are replaced by a *different*
oligarchy, but this is because the majority is not organized, and
nature abhors a power vacuum. It *will* be filled.
I do find it a bit odd that what is the standard default practice in
democratic societies, as exemplified by Roberts Rules, here seems to
be my lone opinion. Perhaps it is because this opinion is so obvious
that others who agree with me don't consider it necessary to
intervene. Perhaps it is because this is a skewed population. Perhaps
it is because I write so many words that many just don't read them,
including those who would otherwise agree with me. But these people
read what *others* are writing, I assume, just as I do.
I've been explaining *why* introducing random choice to election
methods is *generally* a bad idea (remember, I've agreed that there
are situations where it could make sense). Maybe I'm wrong as to the
reasons, but, I will assert, there *is* a reason why common opinion
here, even among those who seem to favor the introduction of random
process, is that it could not be sold to the public. Could it be that
the public is smarter that the level of understanding that would lead
one to conclude that random process -- and in this case, distributing
victory to minority factions or minority results in elections -- is
not a useful idea.
Now, for purposes of studying election methods and how they behave,
it can be useful to note how a method compares in utility to a random
ballot method. I'm not denying that. But it seemed here that it was
proposed that randomization would be *more fair.* And that's a quite
What must be considered is not only the average utility, not only the
fair distribution of utility when it's a zero-sum game, but also the
deviation from ideal. Random methods may generate, by some measure, a
superior *average* utility, across many elections, but individual
elections could deviate far from immediate expected utilith of the
electorate. These deviations, we would presume, would average out, so
they may not be considered a problem. They are a problem. The society
has to survive until the next election, and get a bad enough result,
it might not. So there has to be a limit, not merely a reduction of
the probability of a very bad result to very low.
>Giving the majority the right of decision, in theory can
>prevent the minority from making that decision.
What must be recognized here is that, nearly everywhere, in
democratic societies the majority *has* the rightof decision. What is
being considered is, in fact, *taking it away* from the majority.
The fact is that the argument is thoroughly specious. Instead of
"majority," read "the choice-making process," and "minority," the
*Every* choice-making method must do what is being described, must
reject some choice and, it is being incorrectly implied, those who
supported that choice.
Election methods are called aggregative. They make choices by
aggregating, according to some means, the individual choices of
voters. The theory, I've been asserting, is that such aggregation is
more likely to find satisfying results than assigning the power of
choice to some individual or small group. "Benevolent dictatorship"
*could* be an oxymoron, because, no matter how well motivated, the
opinion of an individual is unlikely to match in wisdom the
aggregated opinion of an informed public.
(We like delegable proxy because the *uninformed* public can still
participate without being forced to make decisions on matters they
recognize they don't understand; they can instead add weight to those
whom they personally and individually trust, and thus, we expect,
increase the likelihood that "majority rule" in a DP assembly will
make wise choices.)
I've participated in a number of groups which used Robert's Rules,
and I've both been the one who proposed and worked for the adoption
of the Rules and one who was chosen by the group to administer them,
i.e., I've been elected chair. And I've "lost" many votes. Did I
think that I was being personally rejected or disempowered? No, I
thought that the group had made its decision, and it was at least as
likely that the group was right and I was wrong, and quite possibly,
where I lost by a large margin, much more likely that I was wrong. I
was *pleased* to find that my opinion, even though I had been, in a
case I have in mind, elected unanimously, was not being taken as some
kind of divine writ. Because it isn't. It is just the opinion of one
person, knowledgeable or otherwise.
>Obviously, the problem occurs when people aren't
>geographically spread out.
I'm not sure what Raphfrk is saying here. A distributed and organized
majority can amend the U.S. Constitution in short order, it can amend
any state constitution, it can act in an assembly however it decides,
setting aside the prior rules. *We have a dictatorship of the majority.*
(There can be organized majorities which don't have that power,
across the nation, because of the way that power is chopped up, but,
confirming my argument that the alternative to majority rule is not
some increase in democracy but a reduction, that chopped up system
can result in a *minority* amending the constitution as it chooses.
One would think that a constitutional amendment should require at
least the consent of a majority of those voting, but, in fact, it can
be otherwise. I don't think this was really designed in, it was a
result of a combination of factors, including desires to limit
democracy or to preserve the autonomy of individual states.)
(An interesting problem is that of succession, and this is what
Raphfrk means, I think. What if a state wants to succeed from the
Union? A majority within the State desired this, and for our purposes
here it could even be a supermajority or even unanimity. But a
majority within the nation wishes to prohibit it. What is the
democratic solution to this problem?
It's obvious what the libertarian solution would be. Is
libertarianism a higher goal than democracy? (Or, more accurately,
does libertarianism aim at an ideal higher than that of the democratic ideal.)
I'm with Lysander Spooner, in general from what I know of him. A
great thinker, far ahead of his time. He opposed slavery, strongly.
And he likewise strongly opposed war against the successionists, even
if this meant that they would continue to hold slaves. His opinion
was that social justice would be better advanced without coercion.
And I think history has proved him to be correct about this, though
we still keep butting our heads against the idea that we must coerce
others into good behavior.
But this solution does not work if the "minority" is not confined to
a region which could succeed.
Once again, I need to remind myself and readers that the "majority"
in "majority rule" does not mean a faction, a political party. It is
something that comes into being whenever a decision is made, and it
disappears when the decision is complete, to be reassembled,
typically with a different set of members, when a new question
arises. Political parties which enforce discipline might appear to
make this different, but coerced votes do not show the preference of
the majority, they show, rather, the power of coercion. Majority rule
might sometimes be coercive (in error, generally, I assert), but it
is meaningless if the *true* majority does not have the right of decision.
>Questions of compensation become even more difficult
>when property rights are not well defined. Do absentee
>landlords really own their land? "After the revolution",
>they tend not to.
>"what if anyone could modify the laws"
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